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Ah, the great carrot cake debate. Butter or oil? Cinammon or nutmeg? Plain, or with icing? Marriages teeter, families erupt over less.
Sidestep the dilemma by making this light southern Italian variation, which marries the texture and sweetness of carrots with the tang of orange. The oranges should be organic and untreated, as it’s the zest you need (squeeze the rest for juice).
The quantities given here are designed for a 20cm savarin mould or ring cake tin (known in Italian as a stampo per ciambellone), though they should also work fine for an 18cm standard round cake tin. Serves eight.
300g peeled and grated carrots
250g white sugar
350g fine white flour (Italian ‘00’ quality or equivalent)
20g baking powder
100g sunflower or other seed oil
zest of 3 oranges
icing sugar for dusting
Beat the eggs lightly in a mixing bowl or food mixer, then add the carrots and sugar and whisk together. Add, in order, the milk, oil, and baking power, mixing well to incorporate each new ingredient. Finally, add the orange and whisk again.
Place in a greased 20cm/8-inch round savarin baking tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C (355°F) for 40 minutes.
Bear in mind that Le Sirenuse’s chef, Gennaro Russo, uses a professional oven. If yours is less reliable at maintaining a constant temperature, you may want to check after half an hour or so (test by sticking a wooden skewer into the cake – if it comes out dry, it’s done). Leave the cake to cool, then remove from the baking tin, turn upside down, and dust with icing sugar before serving.
This cake is delicious when served warm with a glass of southern Italian dessert wine – try a Zibibbo from Pantelleria, a Malvasia from Salina, or a good Sicilian Marsala.
Photos © Roberto Salomone